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Annihilator "Carnival Diablos" Album Review: The First Album With Ex-Overkill Guitarist Joe Comeau

Updated on June 2, 2022
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Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Carnival Diablos features the Impressive Vocal Range of Joe Comeau

Long time Canadian thrash metal band Annihilator returns yet again with another album full of fast guitar playing, tremendous drumming, and incredible musicianship to start the new century. This new album at that time was Carnival Diablos and it is overall an effort by the band that their fans will remember for years to come. Diablos is the plural version for the word devil in Spanish. Released in 2001, this album features most of the lineup that was present on their previous album called Criteria for a Black Widow. The only new member on this album is Joe Comeau who used to play guitar for the American thrash metal band Overkill. He does quite a job with the vocals on this album. He is the only non-Canadian band member on this album. Annihilator is a band that has for the most part stuck to their roots without selling out and following what the trends are and they should be respected for that. This album is more evidence that supports this belief.

Carnival Diablos Has a Hidden Track at the End of the Last Song Hunter Killer

Guitarist and band founder Jeff Waters produced Carnival Diablos and then there is a "hidden" track at the end of the last song Hunter Killer. I say hidden because some of you may think that following the song Hunter Killer, the album is over but it is not over after that song.


How good is Carnival Diablos?

If there were any doubts as to whether Carnival Diablos would be a less than stellar effort because of the departure of original vocalist Randy Rampage, those doubts were erased from the beginning of the album. Carnival Diablos was released in January 2001 shortly before Jeff Waters turned 35 years old. Up to this point in their career, Annihilator had a very solid beginning. They released excellent works such as 1990’s Never Neverland, 1993’s Set the World on Fire, and 1994’s King of the Kill. The change of vocalists has never affected the quality of this band’s music and they just seem to get better with time, like a fine red wine that never loses its great taste!

Carnival Diablos: songs 1-7 Including The Perfect Virus

The album starts off with pure speed as the first song is fast and heavy and a great one to start with as it sets the tone for what is to be expected for the album. There are no soft, commercial songs on here except for the last part. The Perfect Virus is a great mid-tempo and heavy metal kind of song and it sounds like Pantera’s Cowboys from Hell song in a few parts. The title track “Carnival Diablos” features some nice background melodic vocals by Jeff Waters which you can hear in the background if you listen closely enough. Starting with the song “Shallow Grave”, this is where things get really interesting. Here we see Joe Comeau doing a pretty good vocal job and the song has got a great groove to it. This is a great one to listen to if you want to sing along to it and get in a great mood right away! The song sounds like what you would hear from the band AC/DC. The next song “Time Bomb” features a part where Joe sounds exactly like Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford. He does a pretty great job at it too as his vocal range is proof of this. He is really able to have his voice hold up too without much strain. Battered is a song that repeats the main riff for a while before it really speeds up. The aggressive lyrical tone of the song sets the stage for what is to be a very good way for the band to have experimented vocally during this time period. “Battered” is a song that was written using pretty much exclusively speed and this song is about a person that feels like their life is totally falling apart and they have to find the inner strength to fight back against the forces that are bringing him down. The song isn’t without melody as there is a solid mid-section riff before it heads right back to the main riff.

The song called The Rush

Joe Comeau's vocal mastery is especially evident in the second half of the album Carnival Diablos

Songs like “Insomniac” and “Liquid Oval” are great too. Insomniac is about a person who is obviously unable to sleep in spite of what he or she does. It seems that no matter what they do, they are suddenly awakened by some horrible nightmare. Liquid Oval is another one of the band’s great instrumental songs which they have always been known for. It is certainly much better than the song Bastiage on their 1997 album Remains. “Epic of War” features some vocals by Joe and he sounds like Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson in this one part of the song where it is well past the middle portion of it. Some of the guitar work in the song also sounds like Iron Maiden which is a band that very well could have influenced these guys.

The song called Perfect Virus (Pantera influence in this song)

Favorite Song on Carnival Diablos

What is your favorite song on the album Carnival Diablos

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A Casserole of Delicious Chicken and Corn


"Hunter Killer"

The Song Hunter Killer and the Hidden Track

The final song in the album “Hunter Killer” starts of slowly and stays that way for about almost two minutes. Then the listener is greeted by all of a sudden fast guitars, pounding drums and a rhythm that will leave him or her wondering how this band could create such an awesome song. Annihilator does a great job of mixing songs up so that they have both slow and fast parts in them. They are able to make things like this really mesh and that ability of theirs says a lot about them. Lovers of songs like “Metal Militia”, “Angel of Death”, and other songs of a similar style will love this one too. The last soft part that is sung by Jeff Waters himself will probably come under major criticism by most heavy metal fans. But this is actually a nice, fun way to end an otherwise heavy, melodic and great heavy metal release. Jeff Waters sing some silly and funny vocals in this one. It is a song designed specifically for kids as Jeff Waters sings: "This is a song all about the best darn food in the world. It's called chick, chick, chicken and corn!"

"Shallow Grave"

Rate the album Carnival Diablos

Cast your vote for Annihilator Carnival Diablos

Carnival Diablos Final Thoughts

Overall, Carnival Diablos is most definitely one of the best thrash metal albums of the new and young century and is highly recommended for heavy metal fans everywhere. It is not as good as their second album but it is still an epic, solid release by a great band. Joe Comeau would return in 2002 for the album Waking the Fury. That album is different because of the kind of muddy guitar sound but Carnival Diablos is pure thrash combined with excellent vocals, great speed, and another stand out performance by Jeff Waters! In what other heavy metal album are there so many different kinds of vocal styles that are done so well? None that I can think of. Annihilator shows me that they are better than Metallica! Move over Metallica you’ve got company! For an album such as Carnival Diablos that is now more than 20 years old, it has aged very well and it shows that Annihilator can reach another peak kind of moment once again. Here is a numerical breakdown of the various categories of the album Carnival Diablos and it will give readers a more detailed idea of just how superb this album is.

Songwriting: 95 out of 100

Vocals 90 out of 100

Guitar riffs: 90 out of 100

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


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